Friday Bites: TLAMs, Vision Pro, and What Is the WSJ Thinking?
Happy New Year to everyone!
I’m also heading down to DC to hold a meetup on February 21.
Will Kim—Why is CENTCOM hogging all the TLAMs?
For nearly a month, the US military has been engaged in a concerted strike campaign in Yemen in response to Houthi attacks on international shipping. One of the preferred weapons of this campaign is the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM), a ship-launched cruise missile capable of delivering a 1000-lb warhead from over a thousand miles away.
The use of TLAMs is odd, considering that the Houthi’s lack of sophisticated air defenses. TLAMs are long-range weapons intended to strike deep into an area where air defenses make it too risky to send in planes. Yet the US military, as well as the British Royal Air Force, have been using fighter jets to drop gravity bombs on targets from day one. Why use a cruise missile that costs well over $1.5 million when an F-18 could drop a $22,000 JDAM?
The Navy’s TLAM inventory is not unlimited, and such weapons are desperately needed in the Pacific. China’s formidable air defense network and the sheer distances of the region would make TLAM a critical weapon if a war over Taiwan were to break out. And the number of TLAMs used in the Middle East are not trivial — the US fired at least eighty at the Houthis in the first wave alone. In a single night, the Navy fired more TLAMs than it buys in a year and about 2% of its total stockpile. The Navy is trying to increase production of critical munitions like Tomahawk, but has encountered supply chain bottlenecks.
What makes TLAMs attractive is that there is no risk to a pilot. While Houthi air defenses may be unsophisticated, they are not non-existent, and there’s always the risk of accidents. In the past, TLAMs were a politically expedient, low-risk option. But with the emergence of China as a significant and increasingly modern military adversary, using critical munitions callously may no longer be low-risk.
Jordan’s Sonnet Review of the Vision Pro
In tech’s wide realm, a ski mask bright arose,
The Vision Pro, the promise was in sight.
Pass-through unveiled, worlds blended in surprise,
Immersion deep where old constraints took flight.
But grip on social, weak and ill-conceived,
Too wedded to iOS and its frame.
Developers, once hopeful, now aggrieved,
Hesitating in the tech overhang.
The shame! This marvel brings discomfort too,
A sea of nausea, relentless and deep.
Perhaps ambition here too swiftly grew,
Where tech outpaced the needs that bodies keep.
When sports and work Tim Cook does implement
Return I will to Pros TSM-sent.
Gemini proving more capable than ChatGPT in helping with this!
WSJ Drops the Ball on China Coverage
Last week, the Wall Street Journal laid off twenty DC-based journalists, including its entire DC-based US-China bureau. The Washington Post reports,
The following is a riff from Matt Turpin, former Trump NSC China staffer, ChinaTalk guest, and Substacker who writes a self-described “realist” version of a Bill Bishop–style news roundup + commentary.
For the last few years, I’ve noticed a qualitative improvement in the reporting on US-PRC issues, particularly around export controls, intellectual property theft, investment security risks, and the PRC’s malign influence in the United States. This requires years of research and experience in a variety of fields (technology, finance, government regulatory frameworks), which can only be done by a well-resourced media outlet like the Journal.
The team at the Wall Street Journal, who was just unceremoniously fired on Thursday, led the way in this transformation. Their exclusive reports routinely landed on the paper’s front page and forced officials in the US Government, as well as corporate leaders, to pay far more attention to what Beijing was trying to accomplish and the methods they were using.
Apparently, the Murdoch family wants to sell its flagship newspaper — and the Journal’s Editor in Chief, Emma Tucker, has been tasked with improving the paper’s bottom line, so that Lachlan Murdoch, Rupert’s heir apparent, can maximize the profit he earns off selling the paper.
But I’m scratching my head on why they would get rid of the US-PRC investigative reporting team that has done so much to raise the Journal’s profile as a serious newspaper beyond the narrow confines of cheerleading the financial-services industry. Reports like the one above (or the ones below) that this team has produced over the past two to three years are likely to become even more important as the rivalry between Beijing and Washington heats up.
Here’s just a few exclusive, investigative reports that this team is responsible for which I think are incredibly significant and would likely not have come about had there not been a team working on them:
The Billionaire Keeping TikTok on Phones in the U.S. — September 20, 2023
China Is Stealing AI Secrets to Turbocharge Spying, U.S. Says — December 25, 2023
Blacklisted Chinese Chip Maker Does a Thriving Business with U.S. — October 5, 2023
Chinese Gate-Crashers at U.S. Bases Spark Espionage Concerns — September 4, 2023
DuPont China Deal Reveals Cracks in U.S. National-Security Screening — August 12, 2023
Congress Seeks Details on Spying Risks from Chinese Cargo Cranes — April 3, 2023
U.S. Approves Nearly All Tech Exports to China, Data Shows — August 16, 2022
U.S. Companies Aid China’s Bid for Chip Dominance Despite Security Concerns — November 12, 2021
China Stymies Once-United U.N. Panel on North Korea Sanctions — September 15, 2021
How China Targets Scientists via Global Network of Recruiting Stations — August 20, 2020
Qualcomm Lobbies U.S. to Sell Chips for Huawei 5G Phones — August 8, 2020
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